Let’s start where I’m not going to end: This past summer, as the United States was fumbling its way into a mishandled pandemic, hundreds of thousands of people across the country reacted to the death of a black man beneath the knee of a white police officer. There were protests and marches and speeches and a huge upswell of support for the pervasive problems facing many Americans of color.
There was also violence, looting, rioting, and death. People’s livelihoods were destroyed, lives were lost, and chaos reigned in several major American cities. Anarchists took over a small area of a major metro, and “anti-fascists” besieged various other cities (notably Portland) nightly. For weeks on end. It was horrific.
The former? Protests / marches / etc? Those were manifestations of the very best of the American Way. The latter? Those were vicious, chaotic, and destructive in ways far beyond the obvious physical ruins left behind. Because today, as extremists and duped Trumpists besiege the foundations of our democracy, last summer is being used as a shield. People who realize that the election was not fraudulent are nonetheless saying “yeah, but whatabout…”. They’re dodging. They’re avoiding. Ben Shapiro, writing at Townhall, is a great example. He starts off beautifully:
Last week, the Capitol was breached by a group of fringe Trump supporters who had bought into a series of lies: the lie that President Donald Trump lost the election due to proven voter fraud and irregularity; the lie that the Electoral College results, legally certified state by state, could be overturned by Congress or the vice president; the lie that Trump would remain in office if only some sort of armed rebellion were to prevent the election certification by Congress. Those were lies. And those lies had deadly consequences.
And then he immediately loses the thread. He’s off and running with last summer, as if this is some kind of scale and we’re plunking weights on each side. That is not helpful in this moment of crisis.
The people who believe the election was stolen have been lied to. Full stop. And contrary to the wishful thinking of some folks, it isn’t a fringe few. Something like 40% of Americans believe this destructive lie. A major percentage of one of our only two major political parties believe this lie. Yes, the majority of Americans (71%) think violently attacking the Capitol to affect the election results is wrong… but that still leaves 29% — tens of millions — who think it was right. When we are a country as large as the United States, this “minority” of people is not a fringe few.
This is an immediate and urgent problem that requires a focused response. And we’re not getting it.
The United States is on the brink of utter disaster. The country’s leadership knows it. (Most of) The political punditry knows it. Many of the citizens even know it. But while the most successful democratic republic in the history of the planet is being torn apart from within, everybody’s busily pointing fingers at “the other side” and trying to avoid facing their own parts in our unmaking. From congressional leaders to pundits, the political class is muddying the waters and making this worse.
It’s just as ludicrous to talk about the summer’s riots at this moment as it would be to talk about one’s broken arm as a child when we’re pulling you broken and bleeding out of a car accident. Right now, I don’t care about last summer. Today, I care that the President of the United States has fed lies to his party faithful for so long, they can no longer distinguish fact from fiction.
Yes, the Dems should have more forcefully (and immediately) condemned the violence last summer. How is worrying about that going to save the Republic today?
Stop pointing at the past. Focus on right now. Please.